Disagreements are a surefire sign of passion and involvement. They make us humans, they involve us in the topic at hand and give us a sense of belonging. Then why are they so painful and why do they lead to so much division? I have a couple of theories.
- Too many people are used to disagreements. The minute there is an option to agree or disagree, they want to be sure to get their end of the story in. I think a lot of people think that disagreeing somehow will make things better in the long run and it is their responsibility to make sure everything is perfect according to them. Anecdote to that is to think about the cases in your life where disagreeing has led to a positive outcome and how that positive outcome was reached in spite of the disagreement.
- Too many people are used to having their disagreements discarded and their voice not heard. Since they think that they will be ignored anyways, they try even harder to be heard. As they get desperate, their counterpart pushes out their opinion quicker, thus resulting in discord. An anecdote to not having your opinion heard is to think of the other party. Have you paid attention to them while they were explaining their position? Can you put yourself in their position for a minute?
- People disagree because they care. However, we are conditioned to care more about the topic of disagreement than about the person we are disagreeing with. This idea came to being because I have often found myself not caring about the issue that I had a huge argument about, but caring more about the person I have been arguing with, when I have let enough time pass after the argument. If I felt that way during the argument, I would not have let the argument happen.
- People disagree because they are disgruntled about something else, but the disagreement allows them to vent their frustration/anger on the present issue. This cause increased discomfort because the opinions seem strained and reaching. Would you have disagreed on this topic if you were in a happy state of mind? If not, how will you get there?
Now I think that it is very important to disagree. But I think that we should get into a disagreement with the right state of mind and be ready to accept the outcome of the disagreement, whatever that might be.
A few questions to ask yourself when you get caught in a quagmire of disagreements and arguments.
- How much does this mean to me? Can I live without it?
- If I was in a happy place (think Happy Gilmore Happy Place), would I still be saying/doing the same thing?
- Am I listening to the opposing party? Could I explain their position to them?
- Has the opposing party listened to what I have to say? Are they paying attention to me? Can they explain my position to me? Have I asked them that?
- Am I choosing my battles? Do I really care about the issue or is it something else?
- Do I have an exit strategy? Am I just building boundaries with no compromise in sight? Am I giving the opposing party an option to come to a conclusion?
- And last, but not the least, am I too angry to think straight?
How do you calm yourself? Disagreements and arguments work well for all of us and that is why we have successful relationships throughout our lives (preponderance of us). What techniques work best? What is different about those disagreements?